Basil Hayden’s Subtle Smoke Is a New Kind of Smoky Bourbon

Let’s face it, smoky spirits are not for everyone. Some love the intense flavor profile, while others view them as much too harsh on the palate, or even a novelty of the liquor world. Well, Kentucky’s small-batch distillery Basil Hayden, a subsidiary of Beam Suntory, sets out to change preconceptions of these char-flavored beverages by allowing the smoke to be part of the profile rather than linger aggressively on top.

The bourbon brand’s latest release, Subtle Smoke, is much more accessible than your average smoky whiskeys, which are typically made from grain that’s been smoked prior to the distillation process. Instead, Basil Hayden has added that character to the bourbon after the aging process entirely by finishing the liquor in a secondary charred oak barrel that’s gently, and gradually, pumped with smoke from the ignition of hickory chips, a process that goes on for six months. The result is a much more balanced profile with a lighter smoke touch.

Crafted by Freddie Noe, an eighth-generation distiller whose grandfather Booker Noe first gave life to Basil Hayden back in 1992, Subtle Smoke features the same high-rye mash bill that the distillery is famous for. This new bottle features a mellow char flavor complemented by soft notes of sweet vanilla, butterscotch, and maple, with a hickory finish.

Instead of feeling like you need to back up from the campfire entirely, Basil Hayden’s Subtle Smoke ensures that you’ll want to hang around all night long. The limited-edition offering of these 750mL bottles now retails for around $50 wherever Basil Hayden is sold.

Purchase: $50

Photo: Basil Hayden